No academy chain chief executive should be paid more than £250,000, according to Sir Anthony Seldon.
The University of Buckingham vice-chancellor, who used to be headmaster of Wellington College, warned that unless school leaders showed “self-restraint” they would be hit by the same controversy over excessive pay which has plagued higher education.
Sir Anthony has recently spoken out about high pay among his colleagues leading British universities.
Speaking to Tes, he said education was a “vocation” and those working in the sector had to demonstrate “moral leadership”.
“I think it is a very bad sign if a headteacher flashes in with a spanking new, top-of-the range BMW and parks it ostentatiously in the drive,” he said.
“What kind of message does that give to teaching staff and indeed to students about what really matters in life?”
“I don’t think any head of any individual school should be paid more than £180,000. And I don’t think the head of any academy chain needs to be paid more than £250,000. You get the wrong kind of people coming forward.”
His maximum figure is well short of the £420,000-425,000 received by Sir Dan Moynihan – the highest paid MAT CEO in the country.
Sir Anthony said his salary at Buckingham was due to rise from £191,000 to £195,000 this year, but he decided to cut it to £150,000.
He applauded the academy bosses who have voluntarily reduced their pay. “If only vice-chancellors had followed the same self-denying strategy we wouldn’t have had the embarrassment of four months of bad headlines,” he said.
Sir Anthony said that the schooling was dealing with a “timebomb” on executive pay.
“It’s shaming on the [university] sector that we have all this criticism – and I think it will come in schooling if we don’t show more self-restraint and if we forget our moral leadership role.
“The problem was that [universities] weren’t seen to be responding in a way that struck the public… as a reasonable response. It seemed as if we didn’t get it.
“This is a timebomb for schools also – state and independent.”
This is an edited article from the 12 January edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here